Digital Labor

T.L. Cowan


T.L. Cowan is the FemTechNet Chair of Experimental Pedagogies in the School of Media Studies and teaches at Eugene Lang College in Culture & Media, Gender Studies and Integrated Arts at The New School.

T.L.’s current academic work focuses on the cultural and intellectual economies and social lives of trans- feminist and queer performance. Her recent articles include “The Labour of Being Studied in a Free Love Economy” (ephemera, 2014); “Speculative Praxis Towards a Queer Feminist Anti-Archive” (Ada, 2014);“Trading Credit for Debt: Queer History-Making and Debt Culture” (WSQ 2014); and the forthcoming “Transfeminist kill/joys: Rage, Love, Reparative Performance” (Transgender Studies Quarterly 2014).

T.L. also coordinates FemTechNet’s program for developing cyberfeminist approaches to online education and connecting with other digital pedagogical publics. 

Research and Practice on Feminist / Feminized Digital Labor
Bringing together scholars from locations across The New School, this session will address feminist and feminized digital labor from the perspective of both research and practice. The notion of “digital labor” we explore is deliberately broad, and includes refusing the digital as well as accommodating it. Participants will discuss a range of topics including: ethics and reciprocity in ethnographies of digital work; the race and gender politics of online courses; feminist pedagogical publics; value and labor in the digital archive; documentation as digital labor; migrants resisting digital technology; the affective labor of legitimizing subcultural work; the sacrificial labor of being studied; digital labor as reproductive labor; digital technology as state surveillance; digital labor in urban space; the digital turn in public school applications; digital labor within the fashion industry from technical designers to fashion photographers; and more. Throughout, we use “feminist” and “feminized” to signal diverse communities of feminist, transgender, queer, subcultural, ethnicized, racialized, under-resourced, minoritized, disenfranchised, unauthorized and otherwise subordinated subjects. Our questions engage directly with a range of cognate subaltern theories, methodologies, practices, and pedagogies.

Our proposed format is one of experimental dialogue, drawn loosely from the Long Table format created by performance artist Lois Weaver. Blending collaboration, presentation, workshop, and performance, and conceived of as a reappropriation of the dinner table, the arrangement creates a forum around the “etiquette” of openness, dialogue, and permeability. Our Long Table plays off the notion of feminized, un- or under-waged reproductive labor invoked by a meal. It addresses the collaborative—if uneven, shifting, or exploitative—labor involved in producing inquiry and knowledge. Because seats “at the table” can rotate, it is ideal for structuring a large group such as ours, as well as for switching roles of presenter/performer and audience. Participants will frame questions, offer comments, and possibly entertain silence.

Research & Practice on Feminist / Feminized Digital Labor
Fri, November 14
10:45 AM - 01:15 PM

Digital Labor, Sex Work, & Maria's GentleWhispering
Fri, November 14
02:15 PM - 04:45 PM